For the third year running, East Riding of Yorkshire Council’s website www.eastriding.gov.uk has successfully achieved the top four-star rating in the 2014 Society of IT Managers (Socitm) Better Connected review. Socitm review every council website in the country across a broad range of criteria with these findings and ratings published annually through their Better Connected report.
Once again achieving a four-star rating shows the strength of its online platform and confirms the council’s commitment to delivering an easy-to-use and feature-rich website experience.
Only thirty one councils out of all 433 reviewed (eight per cent) in the UK received the top four-star grade, with East Riding also highlighted as one the top 20 best developed council websites.
The Better Connected 2014 report is a structured survey with 224 questions for all local authority websites. Surveys are carried out by a team of independent reviewers, with the 2014 report focusing on these key areas:
1 Rubbish Report fly-tipping
2 Libraries Renew library book
3 Leisure Find out about football pitch
4 Highways Find out about road works
5 Rubbish Report missed bin
6 Planning Find out about a planning decision
7 Family history Apply for copy of birth certificate
8 Events Find out about ‘Under 5s’ event
9 Social care Find out about care home
10 Adult education Book evening class
11 Environment Register food business
12 Democracy Find out about my council
13 A mystery task
This year’s report took on a heavy mobile slant. As ownership and use of mobile devices, such as smart phones and tablets, continues to increase at a rapid pace, no council could achieve the top four-star rating without having mobile accessible content and services as part of their online offering, further endorsing the quality of service provided through www.eastriding.gov.uk
Thirty per cent of all traffic to the council’s website now comes from a mobile device, a trend that was spotted early, allowing the council to develop a fully-responsive website design. Delivering content in a format that is best suited to the screen it is being viewed on.
In recent years, the web has quickly became the primary method most residents use to access council services. A large proportion of the East Riding now expect to perform all their transactions online as they do with their shopping or car tax, representing a huge shift in how the council conducts its business. This trend is only expected to continue, effective delivery of services that can be accessed from any device at any location has never been so important.
Making these services as easy-to-use and simple as possible is now the primary objective for the council, using the private sector business model, the design of the website and its transactional services are never considered finished and a culture of continuous improvement and refinement for all our digital services is now being adopted across the council. Using this approach, the council seeks to meet the changing needs and expectations of its residents many of whom expect an easy-to-navigate and usable website experience, it also allows the council to meet future challenges around service delivery with the drive to save money through web self-service.
Councillor Jonathan Owen, cabinet portfolio holder for transformation and strategic partnerships, said: “To have secured this accolade for a third year running is an outstanding achievement and is testament to the hard work of our staff to develop a website that provides residents with a fast and reliable source of information about a variety of services.
“The website is pioneering in its user driven approach and continues to play a key role in the council’s drive to improve and tailor service delivery in a digital age to those who can use such technology, whilst realising some residents will always want a face-to-face approach, it has also been highly commended by Socitm who regularly highlight it as an exemplar of best practice in public sector websites.”
John Skidmore, interim director of corporate strategy and commissioning, said: “This is a fantastic achievement and shows the council’s commitment to delivering good-quality cost-effective services. In face of the current economic climate, an effective website is one of the key tools the council can utilise to deliver cost savings through customer self-service.
“Residents are at the heart of every service we deliver and this is reflected through our website as we try to make using www.eastriding.gov.uk as easy and hassle free as possible. This is a success for East Riding of Yorkshire Council and the East Riding as whole.”
To further improve the website’s design and content, users can leave anonymous feedback at the bottom of every page. Below is a selection of comments from East Riding residents:
“Hi this page is full of very transparent information about the facilities available at Goole Business Centre. It is clear and well ordered. I could easily find what I wanted to know. I wish you good luck with the venture.” From the Goole Business Centre page
“Web site easy to use found what I wanted and more.” Senior Railcards page
“Very helpful I didn’t know you could access so much I am looking forward to researching more of my family now.” Archives and local history
“I think your website is very good and very well set out.” Website homepage